The Royal Institute of British Architects awards the Stirling Prize to the best building of any type built in the UK during that year. First awarded in 1996, the Stirling Prize has been awarded to everything from the media gallery of the Lord’s cricket pitch in 1999 to the rebirth of a 12th century fortified manor ravaged by fire in 1978 reborn into the 20th century. Zaha Hadid has won twice, as has Foster + Partners. It’s a big deal.

This year, the award went to a public housing project that’s built to Passivhaus energy efficiency standards designed by Mikhail Riches with Cathy Hawley.  In total, the Goldsmith Street project by the Norwich City Council has racked up six RIBA awards. Called council housing in the UK, in the US we’d equate it with public housing, built by local governments to house a lower-income working class.

That this type of cost-conscious housing could win a design award is telling. That it could also be so energy efficient, tells more. In addition to being affordable to construct, tenants’ energy bills are estimated to be 70 percent lower than normal – bringing running costs down further.

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Workers demolish derelict apartments on Kings Road to make room for a new high-density Dallas Housing Authority development.

Workers demolish derelict apartments on Kings Road to make room for a new high-density Dallas Housing Authority development.

Mike Harper and his fellow Oak Lawn neighbors, the voices behind the RezoningDHA website, worked hard to raise awareness among homeowners when the Dallas Housing Authority submitted a rezoning request for its Kings Road project. And thanks to their persistence and the hard work and consensus building of Dallas City Councilman Adam Medrano, DHA officials were able to work with neighbors to reduce the size of the development and decrease the impact of the public housing project on nearby properties.

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